“I didn’t just cut my hair, I unveiled myself.”
My hair was the sole point of my beauty. It was long, brown, slick and smooth, and it held not only various hair-ties, but a multitude of memories. I wore it like a blanket, hid my insecurities behind it, fiddled with it during boring classes and even pulled on it when things got scary tough. But there came a point in my life when I wanted something new, and I got bangs. And an undercut. And I cried. I cried because my hair had been such a strong and bold symbol of security in my life, and in just a few moments, a quarter of it was gone.
As it turns out, I didn’t really like the bangs for more than five minutes, and although the undercut felt soft under my fingertips, watching it grow out became an annoyance. So I did nothing for about a year. Until one Sunday in the late summer, after church, with a friend, and hour before I had, for lack of better words, a family gathering to go to.
We cut my hair to a bob. And guess who didn’t cry? In fact, I don’t think I could stop smiling. All those fears of losing my symbol of security faded away. I felt relief. A physical weight had been lifted, but the metaphorical weight meant so much more. Tangled in my long locks of hair were of course those memories I will forever be fond of, but there were plenty of not so great ones too. After a year of coming out, coming forward, and a hell of a lot of tears, I was ready to shed that old skin and become a better, stronger, and freer me. And boy oh boy did my ego grow with that new bisexual bob, as I was later informed it was called.
I radiated confidence, began to see my self worth, and self love became a new and very welcomed friend of mine. That bob and I would go through a few future altering changes, like turning the good old 18, graduating high school, and going through the end of a long time relationship. But alas, once again caught in the adrenaline of change, I said goodbye to the bob and went to my most daring, a pixie cut.
That night, I wrote about how I unveiled myself. I couldn’t hide anymore behind strands of hair. And I didn’t want to. I was more free than I’ve ever been before. I was comfortable in my own skin, in my own body, in this forever home of flesh and bones.
But of course I wanted to go further. I wanted to be as bold as I could be. I already came out, but what if I could come out without having to say anything? What if I could radiate that androgynous energy I was already so attracted to? I wanted to be able to look back and say “yeah, I did that” and never have to regret the what ifs of not doing so. And with disappointment written across my mothers face, I got my head shaved.
I remember sitting in the chair watching the razor go over my scalp and thinking, “Robin, this is shorter than what you had imagined,” and I could feel my skin starting to burn under my mask, under the black sheet protecting my clothes from the snipped strands. I remember starting to feel panic that I would lose all the confidence I had built up in the last two years. What my family would think didn’t even cross my mind yet, I was too busy thinking about how I wasn’t thinking about the possible outcome that I wouldn’t like this new look. But the time did come when the people pleaser in me started to take to heart that my peoples weren’t pleased.
I began to feel like I had just made the biggest mistake of my life. And there was nothing I could do to change it. No going back. No picking up the hair that was already swept into the dustpan. This was how I looked now, and it was how I was going to look for awhile longer, and I had to accept it, and so did everyone else in my life.
My acceptance of it came quick. I had done what I said I wouldn’t do and the fear that washed over me earlier had vanished almost completely. My family, as expected, didn’t find acceptance as swiftly. I was told I looked better before, that it just wasn’t liked, that I looked like a psycho, and had distasteful faces made in my direction. It hurt. Alot. To be so vulnerable and open with the people who are to put you up, and they put you down over hair that will grow back.
I’m unapologetically me. I am bold. New. Transformed. A better version of all my past selves. My safety blanket is now all gone. What I do now in life, can not be masked any longer. No more pushing hair behind my ear to see. The world is open and bright to me now, and I, open and bright to it. Exposed, in a way. Undressed for eyes to make judgments. The final test in my battle of owning this body of mine.
Would I cave? Or would I stand taller? Would I be the broken bones left at wandering feet to be stepped on? Or would I spread golden wings and soar above what I thought I couldn’t ever be?
I didn’t just cut my hair in increments, like dipping toes into water before submerging, to watch myself take two steps back and never one more forward. At my feet lays my past: people, friends and loves alike, old dreams, mistakes and regrets, and a life- not forgotten- but moved on from.
I unveiled myself. And I will never hide this person again.